Vol. 48 #2
By Sally Rogers
Excerpts from the column…
“I was invited to sing at Sally Potter’s Second Annual
Singing Festival in East Lansing, Michigan, this year. It is an
unusual affair for American concert-goers in that it is the audience
who performs. The singers are merely vehicles for the songs.
Fast forward to February to one of the most satisfying concert
experiences I have ever had, one which I hope is contagious and
spreads like wild fire to the East and to the West. When Joel Mabus,
Pat Madden, Robert Jones and I marched on stage, we encountered
a Friday night crowd chomping at the bit to sing. …We, the
performers, were only the choosers of the material; the concert
was conducted by the audience. …
So, what does this have to do with children’s music and children’s
voices? Everything. When you look at the songs we chose to sing,
many of them were songs from our childhood. …We had a common
“hymnal” from which to sing.
I fear that today’s children are rapidly losing the opportunity
to know these fine melodies and stories in song. …And most
of the children that I see at ages three, four, and five seem to
have no inkling that they have a singing voice that is theirs to
use and cherish. It has already been stolen from them and sold back
in the form of non-participatory CDs, videos and TV shows. It’s
terrifying to a singer and educator such as myself.
So, what’s to be done? The good news is that more and more
parents are trying to relearn the songs that seem to have skipped
a generation or two. …
I believe music educators and classroom teachers are also key in
preserving our heritage of song. …Well taught children experience
songs with their hearts, minds, and bodies and carry them into adulthood.
We need to support music education in our schools if that is where
the culture is being passed on. …It is a battle worth fighting
if we want to preserve the voices (both literally and figuratively)
of our children. …Through us, children experience live music
presented with passion and humor. And it is our duty to pass on
the old songs in addition to our latest creation. …
So, back to the concert…If our children are to have a common
hymnal from which to sing, who is going to introduce them to it?
It must be the parents, and the teachers and the performers and…you
know, we might just all be singing if we do our jobs right!"
Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2004 issue
of Sing Out! (v.48#2, (c)2004 Sing Out!, All rights reserved.) If
you'd like to read the entire article, you can purchase that issue